The Classics Club: November Question of the Month

Each month there is a question posed at The Classics Club, which I joined on Monday. So, each month you’ll get a little extra insight into Wallace. Sorry about that.

November Question:

What classic piece of literature most intimidates you, and why? (Or, are you intimidated by the classics, and why? And has your view changed at all since you joined our club?)

I tend to get nervous before I start most books (classics or not)… “Will I like it?” “Will I stick with it and finish it?” I don’t tend to finish books that I don’t like, so I get over-analyzey on each book that I start. Not very helpful, mind you. It’s part of the reason I started the Read-a-Longs. I need other people to push me to keep reading, even when I don’t feel like it, and point out (in times of frustration) that even during the parts of books I don’t like – there’s usually still something to be noticed (particularly in those lovely time-tested works).

Am I the only one with this crazy anxiety? What about you – what would your answer to this question be?

19 thoughts on “The Classics Club: November Question of the Month

  1. I am the opposite. I have an incredibly hard time NOT finishing a book once I start it. Even if I really don’t like it, I force myself to soldier through. Reading Anna Karenina was like that for me, it turned into more of a school-assignment feel. But I am glad I finished it!

    In regards to classics, my biggest fear is that I won’t understand the writing very well. I haven’t read very many classics, but that is definitely the reason I love them with the read-a-long. It’s ok if I don’t understand it because somebody is bound to explain it to me! So I can go into them without fear. Love that :)

    • I totally agree about the read-a-longs, it’s why I started them actually (well that and to make sure I finish the books by keeping my interest engaged even through the slow parts).

  2. I don’t have anxiety about most books but there are a few that scare the pants off of me! War & Peace, Ulysses….:::shudder::!

  3. Hi Wallace
    I am always nervous starting a book as well. 19th century novels are especially difficult because often it takes a long while to get into them. I almost gave up on Bleak House before the excitement kicked in. I have never attempted Proust-everything I have heard puts me off. And Ulysses-slow AND hard to follow. That’s one of the reasons I loved English lit at Uni (college), one had to read challenging books and it was always worth it.

  4. I have no idea why but I can’t get myself to read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I think it’s being afraid I won’t love it or understand it. I know their children’s books but there is some unexplainable fear there.
    As for the classics, I am scared to start any classic. I think the fear stems from not appreciating or enjoying a book that has been so highly praised and revered. I feel somewhat ashamed that I don’t like The Great Gatsby. It’s almost feels like it’s sacrilage to not love a classic and therefore you’re not a true book lover. Perhaps that’s why I avoid them…

  5. What, I can’t interest you in classic Anglo-Saxon epic poetry? It’s sorta proto-Lord of the Rings in part, but hard going, mind you I can’t get enough of viking sagas, so I think I’m in a club of my own on this, :)

    If I’m not getting into a book at all, I find it very hard work to struggle through to the end, so onto the dnf pile it goes. Having not really got into The Prague Cemetary, I do find Umberto Eco’s back catalogue – especially the Name of the Rose and Focault’s Pendulum, somewhat intimidating.

    • Should I start calling you Beowulf then? Apparently, you are the person I need to read this with. I nominate you run a read-a-long of it, and I’ll sign up (and then probably drop out and fail). :)

      Oooh, I’ve heard very scary things about Focaultโ€™s Pendulum.

  6. Proust and Ulysses would be on my list too – it’s not that I think I couldn’t cope but I’m not convinced I would find them interesting/entertaining enough. I hate books that I feel I’m wading through the mud to read and have to force myself to read a few more pages.

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